Yelp Adds Tools That Allow Businesses To Share Their Vaccine-Related Covid Policies – TechCrunch

As more companies in the US choose to implement vaccine requirements for customers or staff, the business discovery and review site Yelp is introducing new tools that allow companies to communicate those changes to their customers. On Thursday, Yelp will begin rolling out two profile attributes, “Vaccination Proof Required” and “Fully Vaccinated Personnel,” to help consumers understand how a business is operating in regards to the pandemic.

While there is no federal mandate for companies to require proof of vaccination, some cities are introducing their own policies. Recently, New York City became the first to Require proof of vaccination for restaurants and indoor gyms.and San Francisco is now exploring a similar set of commands. Other cities may choose to do the same in the future.

What’s more, local deal owners in the US they are implementing their own measures outside of federal or state guidelines, including requiring masks or proof of vaccination for customers, or requiring their staff to be vaccinated. These options often come at a price, as companies risk a social media backlash and bad reviews from the anti-vaccine crowd.

The new Yelp features will represent an attempt to help mitigate that backlash, the company explains.

Image credits: Yelp

Yelp says it will proactively leverage a combination of automated systems and human moderators to protect businesses from customer attacks if a business chooses to activate either of the two new options related to its Covid vaccine policies.

Although the company has long systems Yelp says the practice has worsened in recent months to address “bomb review” incidents.

In the past, businesses that garnered negative public attention may have had an influx of reviews from those who did not have first-hand experience with the business in question, violating Yelp policy. Yelp can alert the visitor to the company page that there is a possibility of false reviews or that there have been unusual spikes in activity. The company will sometimes even temporarily block users from leaving reviews. And in some cases, Yelp will also need remove False reviews or those that otherwise violate your policies.

But since January 2021, Yelp says it has had to place more than 100 Unusual activity alerts on its pages in response to a company gaining public attention for its Covid health and safety practices. This has included whether a company notified customers that vaccinations were required for their employees or for their customers.

As a result, Yelp has had to remove nearly 4,500 reviews for violating its content guidelines.

Image credits: Yelp

Since Yelp was already handling these types of incidents, it is now more formally introducing a way for companies to mark their Covid policies through new products.

The company notes that it implemented a similar system when it launched our Black property attribute in June 2020 and again followed the same process for other identity attributes (eg. Latinx property, Asian owned, Y LGBTQ property) by proactively monitoring the business pages that triggered these attributes for any hateful, racist, or harmful content that violates their content guidelines.

The company tells TechCrunch there was also demand for its new Covid policy feature from business owners.

Image credits: Yelp

“Business owners and consumers alike have expressed interest in Yelp posting vaccine-related attributes,” said Noorie Malik, vice president of user operations for Yelp. “For many months, we have seen companies implement vaccine requirements for both their customers and their staff. As a result, we have also seen an increase in reviews focused on people’s stance on Covid vaccines rather than their actual experience with the business, ”Malik noted.

Businesses want to be sure that their page will be more actively monitored for fake reviews when they choose to share this information.

Yelp, of course, understands that if you allowed your review platform to become a place away from customers detailing their first-hand experiences, your overall service would become less useful.

“Yelp has always been a trusted source for local business information, helping the millions of people who come to Yelp every day make informed spending decisions,” said Malik. “It is important that consumers have a resource to obtain relevant first-hand information when engaging with a business. It could be argued that this is even more important during a public health crisis, making reviews of relevant first-hand consumer experiences critical. “

The function is being implemented now and can be found in the Yelp for Business account page.

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